A Question for Q&A: Why Are You Still On Air?

So what do you call a situation involving one Christian pitted against a Jew who is really an agnostic, an apostate Catholic, a lesbian atheist, a mildly conservative agnostic, and a secular lefty host? Yep, you got it: a typical “fair” ABC debate. This happens so often that we really need to get the acronym right: Always Biased Crap.

The ABC monotonously and routinely seems to stack the deck each time it has a “debate”. It is so afraid of real debate that it will ensure that there is a predetermined outcome. The Monday night Q&A television program is a typical – and appalling – example of this.

I happen to know a bit about this. I would have done hundreds of such debates over the past twenty years, many of them with the ABC, either on radio or television. You can always count on the moderator to not be moderate in the least, but to side with my opponents. So automatically it is already 2 against one. But I have taken part in plenty of “debates” where it was three against one, four against one, five against one, and so on.

So insecure and so biased is the MSM in general and the ABC in particular, that this is the only way a conservative religious voice will get on. And it is only a token appearance anyway; that way they can claim that they are being “balanced” and “even-handed”. Yeah right.

Getting back to this Monday night’s program, it was a usual leftist gabfest, with the audience predominantly in the secular left camp as well. So one poor Christian had to take on not just five others, but effectively hundreds of others. The host Tony Jones must feel so nice and safe in such rigged circumstances.

Various hot potato issues were discussed: euthanasia, religion and politics, and so on. But since the show, and the network, is really all about pushing agendas, a major topic was same-sex marriage. The entire debate was pretty lousy. Of course proper debate on complex social issues simply cannot be conducted in such formats.

All you can get are brief sound bites, and often the person who shouts the loudest wins. Consider our apostate Catholic: she was absolutely ridiculous as she pretended to be some sort of Catholic when she denied basic Catholic social and ethical teaching here.

There she was going nutso about how Jesus was into love and therefore we of course have to embrace same-sex marriage. Hey apostate, adulterers and fornicators talk about love too – so was Jesus wrong to condemn these types of sexuality as well?

For someone who claims to be a good Catholic and says she in fact studied theology, she does not seem to have a clue – or more likely, is “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” as Paul writes in Romans 1. But I have written about her and her rebellion elsewhere: billmuehlenberg.com/2010/07/04/christian-leaders-missing-in-action-again/

Speaking of Romans 1, unfortunately the one Christian voice let the cause down here. There were a number of small mistakes along the way – not sure why. Getting the 66 books of the Bible wrong was odd (he said 64). When offering a New Testament text on homosexuality, he said Romans 13 instead of Romans 1; another fairly substantial blunder. Romans 13 of course is the key text on God and government, while Romans 1 is one of the most important texts on homosexuality.

But we might put these mistakes down to pressure or the heat of the moment. We all can make minor errors in hot debates. But there was a much more important blunder which really was most unfortunate. In typical fashion Q&A offered set-up jobs instead of genuine questioners.

They had a known TV personality and homosexual activist ask a question (that is, push a predetermined agenda with the complete complicity and backing of Tony and the show) via video clip. It was a very lengthy comment and series of questions about homosexuality.

Of course in a show like this where the conservatives or Christians do well to get 30 seconds to reply (and are routinely interrupted along the way), the secular lefties are allowed by Tony to drone on and on. Thus it is basically impossible to properly address so many complex and nuanced issues. Indeed, I just wrote a 270-page book to try to unpack all these sorts of issues.

A major part of this homosexual’s remarks was that he was born this way, always felt this way, and could not possibly change. Most unfortunately the Christian started by saying he agreed with him! This was disastrous. A major strategy of the homosexual lobby is to convince us that homosexuality is genetic, immutable, and unalterable.

Sadly they have managed to convince many – even Christians – that this is the case. The truth of course is quite the opposite. Homosexuality is not at all the same as being left-handed or red-haired. Numerous homosexual activists themselves have even rejected these fallacious claims.

Indeed, I wrote a very detailed chapter about all this in my new book. In almost 20 pages utilising 76 footnotes I offer a careful rebuttal to the claim that homosexuals are born that way and cannot change. Any Christian speaking or writing on this topic should know all this. And they should know that above all Jesus is in the business of radically transforming lives.

If we don’t believe this then we don’t believe the gospel. So it was a great disappointment that the only Christian on the show could not strongly offer the biblical and scientific position on this. But as I already noted, shows like this are lousy formats for engaging in actual considered debate.

All up he did quite well on the other topics, and we are always grateful when believers are willing to put up with all the public hate, flak and opposition as they appear on these shows. We certainly need more such brave believers to front up for these debates.

Perhaps I am getting old or something, but I don’t get asked quite as often as I used to to be part of these debates. However my media presence is still fairly constant and demanding, including being asked just hours ago to write an article for the most widely read newspaper in the country (which I just completed).

As I say, I have done plenty of these debates over the years. Thankfully today one can ask for instant help – prayer and otherwise – by means of emails, FB, and so on. So many of my debates in the past took place without the help of the new social media, so it was often a very lonely and very tough situation indeed.

But on another note, without doubt the very best line of the night came from Gerard Henderson: “If you’re talking about bizarre views, have a look at the Green movement. Once upon a time, when people said, ‘The end of the world is nigh,’ they were figures of fun. They were all Christians walking around in odd clothing. Now, people who walk around in odd clothing and say ‘The end of the world is nigh,’ vote Green and often work at the ABC.”

What a ripper, Gerard! The only other major highlight of the night was a guest in the audience. The ABC obviously messed up big time to allow him in. He was an older man confined to a wheelchair. He spoke about euthanasia. The Q&A producers must have been rubbing their hands with glee: “Great, we can get him to make a powerful and emotive case for euthanasia” – another pet agenda item of the secular left.

But when he spoke – and he spoke several times – he made an impassioned and powerful case against euthanasia! When one panelist went on about when she gets old and incapacitated and wants to be able to pull the plug, this guy said, ‘Hey, I once said exactly the same thing! But now that I am in this position I have most definitely changed my mind!’ The activist ABC execs must have been pulling their hair out by this point!

One other matter: why is it that every single time anyone who is not remotely a raving lefty is described as a “conservative” or better yet “ultra-conservative”? Why are those on the left never given such prejudicial adjectives? Why aren’t they introduced as “leftist commentators” or “lefty politicians” or whatever? It is all part of how the ABC demonises people and pushes its biased agendas.

Oh, and did I mention that the only reason the ABC exists is because you and I are forced to subsidize it with our tax dollars? Surely it is time for it to stand (or, more likely, fall) on its own two feet.

[1466 words]

27 Replies to “A Question for Q&A: Why Are You Still On Air?”

  1. The Christian also said “Christ was silent” on homosexuality. This had everyone in this office shaking their heads. Albeit the Christian was not given much chance to talk without being interrupted by Tony Jones he still failed to adequately address the video question. Like whether it is intellectually honest to link the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality to “depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and suicide” amongst homosexuals????
    What a sympathetic hand that is. How can we be anything less that monsters!

    Cameron Spink
    RESISTANCE THINKING CO-ORDINATOR

  2. Thanks Cameron

    Of course hindsight is always better the foresight, and as I said, in the heat of battle, one may not always come up with a quick and proper response. He might easily have replied, “Jesus also said nothing about rape, arson, and environmental destruction. Does that mean he approved of those things?” Jesus of course always and everywhere assumed the Jewish understanding of human sexuality as being only between one man and one woman in marriage.

    And when the Jewish agnostic went on about not allowing anything based on religion or Scripture to be permitted into the political realm, the obvious rejoinder would have been to ask him if he thought laws against murder, theft, lying, and so on should be taken off the books because – horror of horrors – they are found big time in religion and Scripture!

    You are also right that the other side resorts to an ugly attack mode, trying to make us somehow responsible for all their mental, emotional, physical and psychological problems. Maybe it is instead due to a destructive and harmful lifestyle. But that too I carefully document in my new book, with even many supporting quotes from homosexuals themselves.

    As I said, on other issues he did pretty well. But I am not sure that on this issue he is the one I would want claiming to represent the biblical Christian position. Indeed, he is due to debate David Marr on this topic soon. Not my first choice, but let’s keep him in prayer. As I said, few Christians are willing to stand up and be counted here, so we need many more believers entering into the public square to take a stand for the Kingdom.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. “Having spent 20 years working in newsrooms, which tend to be populated with moralists who take a preacher’s pride in reforming society, I heard my share of nasty remarks about Christians — the kinds of things that would never be said about Jews or Muslims. Once I was in a news meeting in which a very senior editor made a vicious joke about Christians. He apparently felt safe enough to say what he did because he assumed everyone present agreed with him. And he was probably right.” Do Irreligious Realise They’re Intolerant?

    Religious Australians are by far a more diverse and tolerant group than our anti-religious media. It’s an impediment they’ve acquired after years of indoctrination in horrific university journalism courses and time spent in various liberal monocultures they find in media workplaces. The ABC is an egregious example of this, Bill Muehlenberg adds to the litany.

    From my experience the ABC cluelessness of its left-liberal bias has been so pathetic for so long it has so severely lost public respect that it’s a mere butt of jokes now. The pretense that their ideas and behaviour could last for a moment without artificial support from Australians is long gone.

    As I say they are beyond charges of simple hypocrisy now – they’re comical. The simple hypocrisy of vowing to be a universal and disinterested voice while promoting anti-Christian avante-garde liberalism is bad enough, but to persist in it so long with so little self awareness is just infantile; and as we do with babbling children trying to find their voice – we enjoy them but expect only the most basic communication.

    Martin Snigg

  4. “in the heat of battle, one may not always come up with a quick and proper response”.
    You’ve done “hundreds of such debates over the past twenty years”. Any particular tactics that work well while in the heat of battle, like this Christian was? (apart from knowing your facts – which I assume we’ll find in your book).

    Also I’ve written a detailed response to this Q & A episode on my website:
    http://resistancethinking.com/

    However, because Bill has chosen not to name those involved (and I have) I’ll just direct you to the main page (if you are inclined to read it) to find the discussion about what was actually said by the homosexual activist and how we could respond. Hopefully, we get some younger Christians reading it who feel inadequate in facing these types of challenges against their friends at University etc…. who see no reason to think same-sex marriage is about anything other than equality. And hopefully they get a hold of your book.

    Regards,

    Cameron Spink
    RESISTANCE THINKING CO-ORDINATOR

  5. Thanks Cameron

    As to tactics and so on, a few thoughts (although this deserves an entire article in itself): First, not everyone of course is called to do this sort of thing. I wish there were far more believers involved in publicly standing up for faith, family and life. But it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Still, I often pray Numbers 11:29: “I wish that all the LORD’S people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” We desperately need many more such people, and we can be thankful for those who are in the line of fire. They certainly need our prayers.

    So a call of God is the first requirement. Second, a solid group of prayer warriors backing you up is also essential. Without the Spirit’s enabling and spiritual protecting going your way, you will just be toast.

    But other practical things are necessary. As you say, knowing the facts, and knowing your case, inside-out, is indispensible. So too is knowing your opponent’s position. You dare not appear in one of these debates unless you really know very well all the ins and outs of the arguments, and the likely tactics and objections the other side will employ.

    Also, of course, you need to be very quick on your feet. Unless you can instantly respond to anything thrown your way, you will sink real fast. The same goes for interviews and the like. You will not have time to go back home, pull out a few volumes, and look up the answer. All your facts and all your arguments have to be at your fingertips, and on the tip of your tongue.

    Other things are needed: you have to be thick-skinned, and be willing to put up with plenty of abuse, mudslinging, hatred, lies and deception. You can’t take all the attacks personally, or you will wilt in the first round of battle you face. And you need to be brave. If you are not courageous, that is OK: ask God for courage. Pray always for Holy Ghost boldness.

    Also pray for wisdom, discernment, love, insight and clarity. As I say, I need to do an article on all this. But this will do for a start.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Hello Bill,
    The first (and only) episode of Q&A I ever watched was the one with Tony Abbott, where he was again the token Christian in a panel of left wing loonies. I had hoped it would be a chance to hear him speak on policy, instead it turned into an assault on him with most questions attacking his views on homosexuality. Anyone new to Australia would have thought that gay marriage was the most important issue of this decade. What a wasted opportunity! After 15 minutes I’d had enough and I’ve never bothered with it again. Apart from the occasional nature documentary, the ABC has no value.
    Frank Norros

  7. Thanks Frank

    Yes it really is of so little value. People are welcome to watch it if they like, but it should be privatised and forced to stand on its own two legs, and not propped up by unwilling taxpayers.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  8. HI Bill,

    If the ABC was privatised (it, and SBS, already receive considerable sponsorship which lends inevitable bias and obligations), their audience would not have the same sense of ownership and concern for what they do.
    Have ANY Christians been successful in taking a place on the panel of volunteer commentators? The ABC is currently appealing for such people? It would no doubt be just as difficult a job as surviving on a Q & A panel!!!!

    Brian Tideman

  9. Thanks Brian

    Rather amazingly, the current head of the ABC is an evangelical Christian, or at least is said to be! But sadly that does not seem to have made a bit of difference to all the bias and anti-Christian bigotry which pours forth from the network. So I am not sure if Christian volunteers would have much impact, but yes they can at least certainly try I suppose.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. Thanks Bill for your very thorough and accurate appraisal of the program.
    Yes Gerard Henderson’s comment was a bewdy! And who could argue with the passionate man in the wheelchair! There was wisdom there for the discerning.
    Thanks too Martin for your insights.
    Jan Chapman

  11. Even the very first “Question” on Q&A was blatantly anti-Christian. But no one addressed the demonstrably false claim in the “question” that:
    “[The Bible was written by] illiterate goat and sheep herders, some slaves and a tradesman all of whom suffered from no education, bad diets, hallucinations and chronic dehydration …”

    By letting those lies pass, the Christians tacitly conceded to the lie that the Bible has no historical or theological value. That leaves Jesus classified as the ‘tradesman’, while Luke, Paul, Moses, Daniel, Solomon etc were branded illiterates! But then that’s typical ABC bashing us over the head with the ABC Atheist Bias Club.

    An aside: ABC nature documentaries have much more truth with the commentary turned off.

    Peter Newland

  12. Great summing up of the Q&A program Bill.
    I picked up the few mistakes and like you put it down to the pressure of the moment. However I nearly fell off my seat when I heard the Christian agree with the young man in the video clip that homosexuals are born that way and it is not a choice. Although it should not have been a surprise as I have heard this man before. Once in a local Catholic building and even then I walked away, thinking how weak.
    It is such a pity, the potential a show like Q&A has if the outcomes were not so blatantly manipulated.
    I am amazed in your comment that an evangelical Christian heads up the ABC, they have obviously had no influence whatsoever on the bias. Taxpayers are seriously defrauded by the ABC and I think it has reached the point that it would be better if it was closed down altogether. I have complained a few times and always get the standard reply that the show in question meets our guidelines.
    Rob Withall

  13. I thought the Christian representative did alright given the circumstances. I mean the video rant by josh thomas was designed to put him on the back foot. I also thought rather than say Jesus was silent in the issue he could have followed up better with particular scriptures specifically referring to homosexuality, but Its tough with the way the panel was stacked.

    Peter Sanderson

  14. Yes quite so Peter.

    As I mentioned, it is terribly difficult indeed when you are the sole token conservative/Christian voice, and the entire deck is stacked against you, and you are even surrounded by wolves in sheep’s clothing. I have been there countless times myself and it sure ain’t pleasant.

    Which is why hardly anyone is willing to stand up and be counted in this way. Indeed, for many Christians, it is far too much to even post a comment on a site like this! Many believers are simply terrified about getting involved in the battle for truth in the public arena, or sharing their faith in the public square. We need far more Christians with some backbone and Holy Ghost boldness.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. This reminds me of a documentary a couple of years ago – The Great Global Warming Swindle. It could well be the only program the ABC has ever aired (that I’m aware of) which dared to question the man-made global warming alarmism.

    It was immediately followed by a panel “discussion” which ran longer than the documentary, in which the credibility of the documentary author was attacked. Tony Jones, who led this one-sided character assassination squad, justified it by saying it was done in the interest of balance. Yet almost every day the ABC airs material supporting man-made global warming, without any hint that this story may have another side. It seems that balance is only needed when you want to counter a view you don’t agree with.

    I didn’t see Q&A last Monday, but I did see Media Watch just before it. With great irony, Jonathon Holmes, who has been pointing out the need for balance lately (outside of the ABC), said “In a news story, it’s not legitimate to cherry pick facts and ignore one side of an important argument. That’s not journalism, it’s propaganda, and it undermines democracy” [quoted from Media Watch website].

    Yes, there are hypocrites in the church – but the ones outside it are worse, and sadly they seem blind to it.

    Graham Barker

  16. I don’t know how anyone can do it. I haven’t watched the ABC in years.
    Carl Strehlow

  17. In regards to the man on “Q & A” who said, “[The Bible was written by] illiterate goat and sheep herders…” – a little hard for illiterates to write a book, I would have thought (thanks for the quote, Peter Newland).

    Another point – Kristina Keneally, former NSW Premier, seemed happy enough to invoke her “Christian faith” when supporting causes that are beloved by the left. However, when expressing doubts over certain causes the left supports, she explicitly disavowed any religious dimension to those doubts. If one watched carefully, one would have noticed her talking about her support for on-shore processing of asylum seekers as a Christian, or offering us a (mangled) Christological justification for same-sex marriage, but specifically saying that her doubts about euthanasia had/have nothing to do with her religious faith. Interesting that.

    True, Bill. We do need Christians who are filled with a spiritual boldness, and who are willing to take their place in the public square. I am praying that God will turn me into one of those.

    Scott Buchanan

  18. Bill,

    Can you point out who the (so-called) Catholic was? (I didn’t watch the show). Here is the following teaching of the Catholic Church re Homosexuality:

    Chastity and homosexuality

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    There is no confusion in the words. Unfortunately, there are so many who claim to be Catholic but defiantly speak out against the fundamental beliefs of the Catholic Church. I wish they would be true to themselves and create their own Church.

    Jane Petridge

  19. As for the man in the wheel chair, it is part of the ABC’s strategy to appear inclusive. If you have a disability, you are definitely in a good position to get access to these forums, though you may nay be asked once. Praise the Lord for that man!
    Many blessings,
    Ursula Bennett

  20. Hi Bill,

    I lost respect for Q&A some time back when a person produced emails/articles to answer a question from the audience… one has to wonder!!! I have also sent in no less than 20 question’s none of which made it to the table. Though the idea is good it has degraded to a policy agenda show.

    I am quite happy for gay people to be married. Just call it for what it is, “a same sex marriage”. If they can demonstrate how they will reproduce without outside intervention I will be the first to welcome them to the traditional marriage.

    Ben Green

  21. Another disappointing thing is the fact that few Christians write on the Q & A forum on the internet. It is a glaring opportunity to spread the good news and counter the rubbish the lefties post. I have already torn Josh Thomas diatribe to bits and critiqued it for the rubbish it is. Now we need another hundred Christians to do the same.
    Roger Marks

  22. Thanks Bill for writing a piece on how ridiculous the ABC is. The comments above also speak truly about how it’s a joke how blatantly obvious their bias is. And I really like your comment about how the ABC always says someone is ‘conservative’ or ‘ultra conservative’ when introducing them/talking about them, but never says/introduces someone as ‘left’ or ‘ultra left’. Sometimes they say ‘progressive’ which is their word for left and sounds really positive. In fact they juxtapose ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ with each other as a further manipulative strategy.

    With Roger’s comments about it being disappointing that Christians don’t write on the Q &A Forum, I do agree with what he’s saying, but sometimes I would rather tear my hair out than watch another instant of Q&A. Sometimes my husband flicks over to it and I beg him to ‘turn it off, turn it off!’ It is just such undisguised propaganda. And Tony Jones’ smug expression is the stuff of nightmares.

    And with the nature documentaries, that was something that I always did enjoy about ABC, but now they’re shifting their propagandist commentary over to them AS WELL. Honestly, ABC = Always Brainwashing Cunningly. Or at least trying to, but it’s so obvious!!!!!

    As tax payers, what can we do about our money going to pay for this rubbish???

    Bronwyn Collins

  23. I would love it if the ABC was overhauled by a Tony Abbott led government. It would be so much fun destroying the tool of the destroyer.
    Mario Del Giudice

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